People often express dismay or are dismissive about LGBT teen suicide. In 2010, when 18-year-old Rutgers University Student Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate’s sex-based webcast of him, someone posted online “fast kids are picked on but don’t kill themselves so what’s the deal with gay kids.â€ Â The issue at hand is the stigma asocial with being LGBT that is rooted in hatred. Plus-size kids are not viewed as an abomination. Their parents may be displeased with their physical appearance but not horrifically ashamed of them. Take the mother who killed her 4-year-old son because of the way he “walked and talkedâ€ and she feared he was going to grow up to be gay.
LGBT youth are scrutinized by classmates, their families, friends, teachers, and society in general. They constantly have to deal with not just bullying by their peers but also criticism and condemnation from politicians and religious leaders who hide behind the Bible to condone abusive behavior against them. It is this type of pious bias reserved for LGBT persons that is at the heart of teen angst.
Pope Francis’ latest olive branch gesture by calling on the Catholic Church to welcome and accept gay people is a positive sign and step in the right direction. And there are more teen resources out there such as The Trevor Project and Suicide Prevention hotline, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the It Gets Better Project, which post videos featuring role models sharing positive experiences about LGBT life.
As more LGBT allies come out in support and stand up against bullying, more LGBT youth will feel safe and validated, realizing their lives do matter. Let’s be mindful to wear purple for Spirit Day and send a powerful message that bullying LGBT youth is unacceptable.